Our Story

Borne of the social justice movement, the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) Network is an indigenous African women’s rights network with a soul.

Our network was created by women activists from Somaliland, Ethiopia, and Sudan in the mid-1990s. Today we continue to work as an inclusive and diverse feminist women’s rights network that holds a unique position working as a regional civil society network in politically volatile contexts. SIHA works in a variety of cultural, political, and geographical environments in Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Somalia, Somaliland, Sudan and South Sudan.

In this part of the world, women are regularly portrayed and perceived as victims, but SIHA challenges the status quo and the notion that African women are victims. SIHA acknowledges that almost all challenges that women face are based on socially constructed norms and that these norms actively subordinate women. We work through and firmly believe in the collective power of African women. We are convinced beyond any doubt that if African women are given the space, they will drive change in this region and beyond. Defying presumptions about African women, SIHA has been carried on the shoulders of numerous African women’s rights activists and has been sustained by their relentless commitment to their cause. SIHA approaches the struggle for women’s rights in the Greater Horn of Africa as a political one, and as such, we hold our aims of fundamental political transformation at the forefront.

In this region, religious militancy often disguises itself as an ideology for resistance against state corruption and ethnic/cultural biases, when in actuality it is a strategy used by states to oppress and subordinate their populations, with ethnic/religious minorities, the poor, and women being the groups most acutely impacted. This is why SIHA works on addressing religious militancy without fear, and in doing so; our connection to our constituency is deepened. This work has been particularly important in Sudan and Somalia. SIHA works to challenge militarisation and military institutions, as they perpetuate the subjugation of women in order to maintain power. Our work in Sudan and South Sudan particularly speaks to this, especially the leading SIHA played in extending support to women human rights defenders (WHRDs) and activists in Sudan during their struggle against the totalitarian ex-regime.
SIHA works to empower civil activists in conflict and post-conflict situations because we believe that conflicts can only end with civil activism and citizen’s active involvement in peaceful governance. Our work in Sudan through the resistance committees of the Sudanese Revolution proves the strength of women’s rights activists within civil society.

Within the increasing rates of mixed migration in the region, SIHA has paid close attention to the pattern of women and girls who migrate to escape conflict or to find employment, particularly as domestic workers. SIHA has worked to support the Ethiopian and Eritrean migrant women and girls who form a significant segment of this group.

SIHA believes in women’s economic growth and equal access to employment. We believe in the importance of women’s equal inclusion in skilled and vocational labour sectors. Our work with women in the informal sector in Kampala and Hargeisa unveils women who have been rendered invisible and unprotected as a result of their exclusion from the formal economy. SIHA has carved out a niche working with urban poor women (a constituency created by rural –urban migration) through the collective power manifested in women’s cooperatives and associations. SIHA also works to break gender stereotypes in vocational education and employment in Sudan through training programmes for young women.

The language of gender equality is mostly driven by actors from the Global North. SIHA, and other women’s rights groups from the Global South, are constantly fighting to recapture ownership over the language of gender equality as we envision it in our communities. SIHA challenges the idea presented by some northern actors that women are one. As a feminist network, we believe that women cannot be reduced to a monolithic entity with a single set of beliefs. Instead SIHA’s work emphasizes that African women are a diverse group with differing interests and priorities, which drive them to hold different positions ideologically and politically. We work to build inclusive women’s movements, which draw power from diversity.

As an African network managed by women working across seven countries, both our work and our strong connections to constituents from a diverse set of ethnic, religious, and tribal backgrounds disproves the ill-informed notion that differences of ethnicity, religion, or tribe prevent women from collaborating around shared struggles. As a network, we have been greatly appreciated, welcomed, supported, loved, tolerated and taken care of by women and men from all the countries in which we are working.

All of SIHA’s extraordinary work is being led by African women and supported by continental and global solidarity. SIHA continues to own its struggle and navigate and transform its challenges into actual gains and lessons learned. SIHA’s trajectory of growth is embedded in safeguarding and advancing women’s rights in the region while constantly generating knowledge through women’s lived realities to politically affirm inclusive women’s movements throughout the Greater Horn of Africa.

SIHA aims to contribute to unlocking the massive potential of the women’s rights movement in the GHoA. This will be accomplished by strengthening the education of civil society organizations so that they can build a strong collective that advocates systemic change. In this way, SIHA works through and in support of broad coalitions of grassroots members to campaign and advocate women’s rights and equality

SIHA envisions women and girls in the GHoA living in a peaceful, just environment where they can exercise their equal rights as human beings

SIHA firmly believes that all women and girls in the Horn of Africa have the right to live in a peaceful, just environment & that should be fully able to exercise their equal rights as human beings.

SIHA’s value on equality is embedded in the Human rights declaration and clearly stated in the Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.  As affirmed in these respective instruments, all are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination. The Convention provides the basis for realizing equality between women and men through ensuring women’s equal access to, and equal opportunities in, political and public life including the right to vote and to stand for election as well as education, health and employment.

SIHA understanding and work is based on the lived realities of women in the Greater Horn of Africa. SIHA works in partnership with women and girls, respecting their struggle, priorities, differences and context, while supporting their work for justice and equality as groups and individuals.

SIHA understanding and work is based on the lived realities of women in the Greater Horn of Africa. SIHA works in partnership with women and girls, respecting their struggle, priorities, differences and context, while supporting their work for justice and equality as groups and individuals.

SIHA prides itself in hard-working with a deep commitment to investing on women and girls while seriously pursuing our goals.

SIHA is open  and accessible  to the women and girls we work with and the communities that we serve. SIHA does not work behind closed doors. For that matter, SIHA acts as a public society institution by having annual audit in line with the law.

SIHA is very intentional about demonstrating respect and the community we are
working with. SIHA ensures this through honoring the essential worth and dignity of all people that we encounter and work with through a participatory approach. SIHA is morally obligated to treat everyone with respect through understanding that our work is to primarily respond and work towards lifting and supporting women and girls in the region.

SIHA is fully aware of the challenges within the context we work in, and therefore is very strategic in responding and acting within the challenges of the different contexts. SIHA also possesses the capability to anticipate crises and forestall disruptions, react to shock and adjust to the unexpected disruption.

As a knowledge production institution, SIHA has strong analytical skills and with an ability to approach matters critically and from different angles. SIHA is intentional about analysis cognizant of the facts, context, women and girls’ lived realities – all in order to reach sound solutions. As such, all the employees and contracted consultants are required to apply critical thinking in their work.

SIHA understands that activism is about discipline. Therefore, any contracted employee or consultant must have a genuine commitment to SIHA’s vision and understand that our vision cannot be fulfilled without being disciplined and consistent.

SIHA, its members, employees and associates must be able to take calculated risks in order to extend support to women and girls – through speaking out, amplifying the voices, reaching and supporting women and girls living and working under difficult circumstances.

SIHA acknowledges and understands women and girls’ lived realities, therefore we are empathetic to the different contexts and circumstances where our members and partners work as individuals and groups.

SIHA acknowledges and understands women and girls’ lived realities, therefore we are empathetic to the different contexts and circumstances where our members and partners work as individuals and groups.

SIHA believes that it takes a village to raise a child. As an indigenous African organization, we believe that our own existence is due to the willingness and support of the communities we serve and work with. Therefore,  all the organizational decision-making and work is done in
participatory and collective manners.

SIHA is persistent in all its endeavors – not easily deterred from carrying on our goals and objectives. SIHA is intentional about being rational, logical, constructive, objective with emphasis on critical thinking and scientific analysis.participatory and collective manners.

As a feminist diverse institution that serves diverse communities of different cultural backgrounds, religions, languages, political affiliation and gender identities, SIHA is keen to reflect that diversity among our teams, members and values while showing our ability to work and connect with each other.

As a small African institution with a limited budget, SIHA relies on its innovation and creativity in growing and progressing. SIHA encourages our teams and members to do the same in order to be able to sustain ourselves and continue growing.

Democracy is rooted in  SIHA’s management and governance systems. All decisions are taken democratically right from the country to regional levels. SIHA insists on the conversation being open. SIHA believes that disagreement is a natural process that is welcomed and encouraged at all levels of SIHA platforms.

SIHA is a learning institution that grows independent of financial support from donors. SIHA has grown through accumulative learning from women activists and grassroots women in different communities nationally, regionally and through our global interaction.

SIHA’s management and governance is not afraid to acknowledge mistakes and self-criticize when decisions are being made. SIHA encourages staff members and the entire team to adopt this culture of owning our mistakes in order to be able to learn and move forward.


Work with SIHA to impact women’s lives.


Support SIHA to impact women’s lives.